By Camillia Anum Mohamad Ashraff (24S03B)
Two plates. Matching bracelets. Mysterious arms and/or elbows.
These are all key characteristics of the practice everyone knows and loves (or hates): soft launching. For the uninitiated, a “soft launch” is essentially an ambiguous post that is meant to hint at a romantic relationship.
Think of “launching” your partner as a spectrum that goes from “soft” to “hard”, which is why some soft launches can be harder than others. Generally, the more information revealed about your partner or relationship status, the harder the launch.
There are two key things that make a good soft launch: mystery and creativity. Take for example pictures of food for two. While this is somewhat mysterious, it is not at all creative. Anyone could post a photo like that, and no one would bat an eye—it’s a common post for meal dates with friends too.
Soft launches are an opportunity to think outside the box. To let your creativity shine. If your partner is worthy enough to be on your main account’s Instagram Story, your soft launch should show as much.
An undeniable classic is the Sky Soft Launch: a picture of a pretty sky and a mysterious partner. My personal favourite variation of this soft launch is one where the partner has their back facing the camera. It adds to the mystery and offers you deniability too.
Since it’s an unidentifiable person, it could very well be a friend, if that’s the narrative you wish to push. And I just love the sky, so maybe I’m biased in saying this is a good soft launch.
For more creative soft launches, I’m partial to the ones which cover their partner’s face with something—think a xiao long bao or a plushie. They’re a fun way to show your personality, or the activity you’re doing together. Emojis are boring! There are so many creative ways to cover a person’s face, which earns this soft launch my stamp of approval.
I’m not a big fan of soft launches that are too simple. Two pairs of shoes on an escalator, intertwined fingers, or just a blurry figure (although I will say this has potential). They are either too unassuming or too blatantly obvious. And as I said earlier, soft launches must have mystery.
There is a delicate balance between giving your viewers some information about your relationship, but not enough for them to deduce anything with certainty. That is why I think soft launching is an art—it’s carefully crafted media to be presented to an audience. Is this a somewhat inauthentic representation of self? Sure, but nothing on social media is truly authentic anyway. So why not have some fun with it?
For this reason, I believe that soft launching is superior to hard launching. Hard launching is easy. Everyone knows that you’re a couple, and you’re free to post about your partner all over your social media. Soft launching, on the other hand, cannot be done too much and too obviously, because it ruins the mystery.
On top of that, soft launching is fun for both the poster and the viewer. There is a thrill in crafting these mysteries—I would liken it to telling a subtle inside joke to a room full of people. Even if most people don’t get it, you and your partner will always know that it was for the two of you.
But on a less sappy note, seeing soft launches as a viewer is also greatly enjoyable. After all, the objective of the poster has always been for viewers to take the bait. “I love screenshotting soft launches and analysing them,” says one of my friends, who asked to remain anonymous.
Personally, analysing soft launches is exponentially more enjoyable with a group of friends. Though I will admit, this may only be enjoyable for the more kaypoh among us.
You can’t deny that there are tons of couples in RI. A year ago, some of us would have been appalled at the idea of the opposite sex. But now, many are entering cuffing season, well, cuffed up.
This makes soft launching even more relevant. Most people have someone to soft launch, and you won’t stand out if you post something basic like everyone else. Give the viewers something worth screenshotting and analysing with their friends! Art is meant to be admired, not glossed over.
“Someone should book a morning announcement slot to announce their relationship.”Anonymous
But it’s also perfectly understandable to want to blend in. And I’m all for it! Post your matching socks to the soundtrack of a sappy love song, or don’t, if that’s not your thing. As with all art, it’s the artist’s intention that matters the most. If your soft launch conveys exactly what you want it to—even if it doesn’t necessarily fit my criteria—then that’s a good soft launch to me too.
Soft launches are a small peek into a big part of your life, so it’s worth the extra effort to make them both mysterious and creative. Why stop at pictures? Why not venture into other media forms? But at the same time, why listen to my opinion? Who am I to tell you what to do?
Above all else, have fun with it, and do what makes you happy. But if you’re thinking, “Is this entire article just an elaborate soft launch?” Then I’d say, isn’t that just part of the mystery?